This was Yext’s first year at The Anita Borg Institute’s Grace Hopper Celebration for Women in Computing (GHC for short). GHC is the largest gathering of women in computer science and other technical fields. It is named after Grace Hopper, a computer scientist and United States Navy Rear Admiral.
If you were at the conference you might have picked up a Yext branded T-shirt, magnet or sticker featuring her silhouette with her signature glasses (see the picture above). In the early days of programming, programs had to be written in pure binary code. Grace Hopper thought it would help if a computer could convert a subset of commonly used instructions into machine code and with this she developed the very first compiler, the A-0. She collected a set of all the subroutines she had been using in her years of coding and put them on tape with a reference number. The compiler matched reference numbers on the tapes to call numbers Grace Hopper referenced in her code. This compiler lead to the development of COBOL.
One of my favorite Grace Hopper stories is that she and her team found the first case of an actual bug in a computer when they found a moth stuck in a relay. Read More about Grace Hopper
We started our trip off with an intimate Yext hosted welcome dinner with our six employees and nine Yext sponsored students at the beautiful Cafe Annie. This was the first time the Yext employees were able to connect with those sponsored students who hadn’t already worked with us as interns. It was a light-hearted and fun night to discuss tips for getting the most out of GHC from those who have attended once or twice already and to hear what the first-timers expected.
The following morning the conference kicked off with a keynote which featured Latanya Sweeney a professor at Harvard University who spoke about technology and the data it can collect and how it can change and shape our society. Ginni Rometty, president and CEO of IBM and the first woman to ever head IBM, also spoke. She talked about the future of IBM’s AI machine Watson, its potential use in medicine and women’s contributions to Watson and to IBM. You can watch the Keynote here
GHC boasted over 15,000 attendees; just ~1,000 were men.
The conference was so large that the keynotes were held in the Toyota Center where the Houston Rockets, a professional basketball team, usually play in front of over 18,000 fans.
The team parted ways after the keynote with our recruiters and several engineers headed towards the career fair to take on their shifts to help convince engineers to join our team while others went to panels, workshops and talks on various subjects such as emerging technology, career advice, product and design and tips for starting and maintaining diversity initiatives.
I did manage to sneak away a few times to take in a talk or attend a community lunch but meeting all of the women technologists at the career fair was by far my favorite part of the entire conference. I lost count of all the students, designers, developers, engineers and countless other talented people I got to speak to in those hectic three days. We even had time to speak to clients of Yext. Some raved about how much easier our software made their lives with requests to speak to the creators of various products and features they loved including one request to meet a Pages engineer.
We also got to explain what Yext does to some that had never heard of us before, which can sometimes happen when you’re a B2B company, but at a technology conference we got to go more in depth than the usual We put business on the map™ (You’re welcome, marketing). Instead we talked about technological problems we have faced and the solutions we came up with.
Some of the Yext Engineer and Recuriting Team at the Conference
We hope to see you all in Orlando next year!
Did you know that Yext is Hiring? Come work for us!